Carib blood may run in your veins................................................................................................................................
By Elma Reyes
Trinidad Guardian, Wednesday, May 31, 1995
"THE EDITOR: I have been motivated to forward this letter by a number of recently published letters and articles in the Trinidad Guardian.
Among these are the letter from Sara-Rachel Walters who identified herself as “member-in-good-standing” of the Association of American Indian Affairs, New York City; Selwyn Cudjoe’s “Message From Tacarigua”; Bobby Thomas’ cry from the heart regarding the continued destruction of Trinidad and Tobago’s natural assets and Heather Dawn Herrera’s series “On Nature’s Trail.”
For approximately two decades I have been privileged to be associated (at their request) with the representive body of Arima’s Santa Rosa Caribs, the only retained community of descendants of the First Nations of Trinidad and Tobago.
During this time they have made considerable effort to acquire from the relevant state authorities land suitable for the establishment of a traditional Amerindian settlement, which would serve as an educational tourism facility for nationals and foreigners. For reasons best known to themselves the “power holders” have never responded positively.
In 1991, after the president and youth representative of the Santa Rosa Caribs returned from the Conference of Indigenous Nations of the Americas held during November 10-14 they met with elders and other key members to report on their experiences.
They then decided to host during 1993 a “gathering” to which they invited delegates (at least two but no more than four persons) to participate by demonstrating the skills retained from their ancestors which allowed them to provide adequate food, shelter medicine and other survival needs utilising available natural assets without destroying them.
Had this been done all interested nationals and visitors would have been educated about systems which are at present respected and held as worthy of emulation by such esteemed authorities as the Smithsonian Institute; the World Wildlife Fund; Greenpeace; Cultural Survival; Survival International and the National Geographic Society of the USA.
Certainly the people now voicing concern about the presence of the shacks around the Queen’s Park Savannah might have recognised that groups of a Amerindian styled buildings with suitable landscaping, would allow the vendors to provide their needed custom in environmentally friendly and aesthetically enhancing structures.
Individuals who now go into the forest and remove the vegetation for various reasons, all linked with making money, would have learned to harvest its assets without destruction as part of the process. Again, for reasons best known to themselves, the contingent of public servants who met the three representatives of the community informed without explanation that this their presented plan was to be replaced.
What happened in August-September 1993, was the imposition of a series of “Best Village” type performances which had minimal input from the Santa Rosa Community, and a seminar coordinated by Pearl Entou Springer which was no more than another “talkathon” because although contributions were to have been published there was no money for this to be done. Or so I was told.
Fortunately, through the interest and involvement of BWIA, Unit Trust and the OAS, arrangements to have Von Martin and Tony Leflwich document the planned (original) gathering, did allow the relevant aspects and personalities at what eventually took place to be recorded.
I want to publicly inform that I have never promoted myself as a member of the Santa Rosa Caribs although I do have some Amerindian branches on my family tree. I became involved with their representative body AT THEIR REQUEST due to the fact that I am related directly or indirectly to several of the families of the community, and was at that time a member of the working press.
My role has been that of research and public relations representative, and it is an insult to the intelligence and retained knowledge of the Santa Ross Caribs and other indigenous people of the region for anyone to insinuate that the information I have been able to share did not emerge from them.
Their ancestors called themselves ARIMAGOTOES and CARINEPOGOTOES and they were identified as Caribs by the state and church authorities who were responsible for the location of the Santa Rosa Mission adjacent to their village in 1749.
They accepted the designation for the same reason descendants of enslaved Africans accepted (until recently) being called “negroes” and “coloureds.”
All officials of the representative body have been elected by the most open and democratic process, show of hands. For some reason, certain media persons have described Ricardo Hernandez-Bharath as “the self-styled President”, an insultive term not accorded to any member of the highly publicised “created” groups with ethnic (and religious) persuasion.
For the benefit of the general public, and media persons who regard the community as objects for the butt of their bigoted remarks, the Santa Rosa Caribs are part of the Caribbean Organisation of Indigenous People (COIP) which has membership in Dominica, St Vincent (West Indies), Guyana (South America), Belize (Central America), and is in constant contact with representative organisations of the First Nations of the Western Hemisphere, and the World Council of Indigenous People.
The original inhabitants did not disappear without a trace, nor were they “wiped out” by the superior fighting skills of Spanish colonists. What really happened is that succeeding groups of arrived people interbred with them so that if all persons with Amerindian ancestry within our nation were to raise a hand to be counted, the number would not only be formidable, but would be inclusive of people who “look” white, African, Chinese, East Indian, and “ethnically mixed.”
ELMA REYES, Research Officer, Santa Rosa Carib Community"
A Note From The Gull
Thank you, Elma Reyes.
"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.
Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.
Mweh ka allay!